The World Jihad


In “Beyond Madrid”, a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in May, the prime minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, provided insight into the Great Islamic Jihad from a South Asian viewpoint.

The war against terrorism could shape the 21st century in the same way as the Cold War defined the world before the fall of the Berlin Wall. To win, we must first clearly understand what we are up against… My perspective is formed by our own experiences in Southeast Asia, which post 9/11 has emerged as a major theatre for terrorist operations. In December 2001, Singapore arrested 15 people belonging to a radical Islamic group called the Jemaah Islamiyah [JI]. They were plotting even before 9/11 to attack American and other Western interests in Singapore.

Singapore has Muslim minority of about 15%, so that its experience is probably typical of Western-oriented states on the border of the ummah. It is these governments which will bear the brunt of the attempts to build a new worldwide caliphate. Singapore has uncovered the network of jihadists who pursue this goal:

But the most crucial conclusion our investigations revealed was this: the existence of a transregional terrorist brotherhood of disparate Southeast Asian groups linked by a militant Islamic ideology to each other and to al Qaeda. Whatever their specific goals, these groups were committed to mutual help in the pursuit of their common ideology: they helped each other with funds and support services, in training, and in joint operations.

The ideology of these radical jihadis who pursue the caliphate is known as salafi.

Our experience in Southeast Asia is not without wider relevance because of what the salafis themselves believe. This is what one of them, an Algerian named Abu Ibrahim Mustafa, has said: “The war in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Algeria, in Chechnya, and in the Philippines is one war. This is a war between the camp of Islam and the camp of the Cross, to which the Americans, the Zionists, Jews, their apostate allies, and others belong. The goal of this war, which they falsely called a war on terror, is to prevent the Muslims from establishing an Islamic state…”

The prime minister then addresses a series of rhetorical questions to moderate Muslims:

Do you seek to change the world by prayer and faith? Do you work with an imperfect reality and strive towards its perfection? Do you not reject all that is not Islamic and seek to destroy it by force so as to re-establish the perfect caliphate? These are all questions that vibrate and resonate around a single axis of faith.

He hopes that by encouraging the moderates in the Islamic community and engaging them in dialogue, an alternative to the extreme Islamists can emerge and take part in the political sphere. But the war against the Islamofascists will still have to be fought.

Only the U.S. has the capacity to lead the geopolitical battle against the Islamic terrorists. Iraq has become the key battleground. Before he was killed in Saudi Arabia, Yousef Al Aiyyeri, author of the al Qaeda blueprint for fighting in Iraq, said, “If democracy succeeds in Iraq, that would be the death of Islam.”

The Islamists know that a democratic Iraq is a threat, and they will do all in their power to prevent it from coming into being. As the nascent political parties jostle for position in the January elections, once again we are left with the all-important question: Where does mainstream Islam stand?

6 thoughts on “The World Jihad

  1. My Baron (low bow), that is an intriguing question, where does moderate Islam stand?
    So let me add two qualifiers (unfortunately pointing 180 degrees to each other but humor me).

    Bernard Lewis, the scholar from the West with his fingers on the pulse of Near East, offers the provoking insights that nationalism in Islam is a recent invention, and differs strongly from what we would recognize in the West. Their religion, Islam, has always been a state as well, unlike Christianity or Judaism, both born as subjects and slaves. The Caliphate has always been there for them; even their nationalism is informed by it. Saudi subjects speak of membership in pan-Arabia and in Islam with a conviction that just isn’t, and never was, present in Christendom (plausibly an exception in Russia under pious rulers such as Peter the Great and the Holy Roman Empire[s]). Iraq, Eygpt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, etc., also proclaim membership in greater unions of faith and race than anything existent today in the West.

    Secondly, this concept of pan-Arabism, even pan-Islam, is different between country to country. Saudi Arabia is infected, perhaps terminally, with Wahhabism. Eygpt is not so different from Ptolemiac or Pharoahnic (I think I just made that word up) Eygpt; there is still quite a bit of mysticism, a deep abiding patience that comes from being in the presence of history’s weighted span. Iran is still Persia, heavily nationalist, proud, vibrant, colored by Mohammed as much as by Zoraster. Indonesia simply has no patience for the Sharia; every time it is proposed by Islamic councils, the people welcome it lukewarmly or not at all (it’s Muslims are as much Confuscian, Buddhist and animalistic as Muslim).

    Asking a question of Islam is like asking a question of Christendom; everybody in the room has to look around and see who you were addressing. North America? Europe? South or East, North or Western Europe? Africa? Brazil? Latin America? Mexico? Korean and Chinese Christians?

    There are small minorities in every country that fall for the fundementalist teachings. These are the failed men, unfortunately pan-Arabia’s chief export after oil. It is easier for a failed man in war; if you want a woman, you take her, if you want something, you take that. Enemy coming over the next ridgeline? Fine, execute all the men of military age and let the elderly, the women, and the children dig the ditches as you sit back and watch Swartzenegger films (I really wish I was joking here, I truly do).

    Like in Caesar’s time, you separate the population from the warriors and then annhilate the warriors. You do it in every tribe, over every hill, until there are no more warriors for the population to support.

  2. Vercingtorix — Asking a question of Islam is like asking a question of Christendom; everybody in the room has to look around and see who you were addressing…Islam has not endured the same sectarian fractionating that Christianity has, probably because Christianity first united in a single hierarchical structure before it fragmented. The Islamic world mainly recognizes the Sunni-Shia distinction, and also, to a lesser extent, Sufism.

    Other than that, I’m right on track with what you’re saying.

  3. Indeed, the Shia-Sunni split is about as contentious as the Catholic and Protestant split used to be (in some parts still is). There are, of course, the Ismailis, the Sufis, and a scant few smaller groups as well, but points all taken.

    Still, what do you think of our Muslims?

    I think, if a sea change in Islam is going to be fought and won it will be at the periphery…the center (Middle East) is so static, so catatonic that change will have to be forced (or infiltrated). I am hopeful, despite my experience in Indonesia, that there is a powerful engine there to change Islam for the better. Here as well.

  4. Hmmm, sorry, ‘our’ muslims is a bit too patronizing (like ahhh, how cute [squeezing cheeks], little muslims), but yeah, I meant our muslim community.
    It seems that they are a vital lifeline back to the middle east and any discussions about moderate Islam should be focused here… where they can speak and practice freely.

  5. asalam 3alaykom all

    hey vercingetorix i want to know what do u mean about modern islam?….because for me that’s such a strange word . and by the way i am from the “suna or suni w/e u want to call it”ppl. and i’ll tell u my view now coz unfortunatly i might not b able to visit this website again so : Islam is one perfect system concluded in the Quraan & the sayings of our beloved profit(s.a.3.w.s.) but the problem is that we have left it for too long may b centuries so it’s not easy to retrive it as it was especialy with every one just attaking islam now plus the terorists who claim they r perfect muslims {i am excluding of course the ones defending their own country and only attaking forign military in their countries” ok i got of point and am sayin useless talk but may b some one understands wat i wanna say n could say it better

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